Artful presents, in book form, four lectures given by Ali Smith at Oxford University. Refusing to be tied down to either fiction or the essay form, Artful is narrated by a character who is haunted - literally - by a former lover, the writer of a series of lectures about art and literature. Full of both the poignancy and humour of fiction and all the sideways insights and jaunty angles you would expect from Ali Smith's criticism, it explores form, style, life, love, death, mortality, immortality and what art and writing can mean. Part fiction, part essay, Artful is a revelation of what writing can do and a reaffirmation of Ali Smith's unmatched literary powers. "Playful, full of insight and humanity, constantly surprising ...another genuine attempt to bust open the boundaries of literary form". (Jonathan Coe, Metro). "Joyful and optimistic. Will be entertaining reading for anyone interested in the art of writing, also of living, well". (New Statesman). "Glittering inventiveness. Not just a ghost story, but also a love letter. As emotionally freighted as a piece of storytelling, as intellectually rigorous as an academic's essay". (Independent). "An insight into an author who is in love with books, invention and words in all their depth and shiny surface". (Herald). "A revelation, a new kind of book altogether, a book that defies categorisation and leaps out of every box anyone could try and put it in; a book that marries fiction to nonfiction, literary criticism to essays; a book that is as serious as it is witty, as light as it is enlightening. Artful makes you glad to be alive". (Observer, Books of the Year). "One of the marvelous things about this book is its reconciliation of the serious - both in the form of this crumbling, smelly guest and in its ardent advocacy of art - and light. Smith, whose love of words and skill at wordplay has already been made apparent in her stories and novels, performs dodge after dodge after dodge ...what Smith has done with Artful is to invent a new form apart from form, to build a kind of Frankenstein's monster inside the act of art". (LA Review of Books). "Smith is a trickster, an etymologist, a fantasist, a pun-freak, an ontologist, a transgenrenatrix...A wordsmith to the very smithy of her soul, she is at once deeply playful and deeply serious. Artful, in which she tugs at God's sleeve, ruminates on clowns, shoplifts used books, dabbles in Greek and palavers with the dead, is a stunner". (New York Times). "These brief, acrobatic lectures ...perform spectacular feats of criticism. Each is as playful as it is powerful, as buoyant as it is brilliant". (NPR). "Contemplative, electrifying". (Publishers Weekly). Ali Smith was born in Inverness in 1962 and lives in Cambridge. She is the author of There but for the, Free Love, Like, Hotel World, Other Stories and Other Stories, The Whole Story and Other Stories, The Accidental, Girl Meets Boy and The First Person and Other Stories.
Shortlisted for Goldsmiths Prize 2013.